Family raise £75,000 for Frazer McDermott's name to live on
A FAMILY who want to build a brain tumour centre as a lasting legacy to their son are a step closer after raising a phenomenal £75,000 in less than a year.
Brave Frazer McDermott died in September 2011, aged 20, from a tumour he fought his whole life.
In January, his parents, Chris and Biba McDermott, from Littleover, decided to raise money in his name so he would never be forgotten.
They launched a huge fund-raising drive to build a centre for families in the East Midlands who have children fighting a brain tumour.
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It is hoped that hundreds of families in Derbyshire will benefit from the centre, to be built near the Queen's Medical Centre, in Nottingham.
Chris, 45, said: "If you had told us a year ago we would have got this far, we never would have believed it. It's amazing.
"This means his name will live on for ever. It is only recently we have got over the shock of losing him but this is helping. Frazer would be so proud."
Biba, also 45, now dedicates most of her time to raising funds and this year organised a number of events for the charity, including a fun run, ball and football match.
And after the Derby Telegraph told Frazer's story, hundreds of cheques from readers were sent to us for the family's fund.
Biba said: "We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for all the support and donations."
HE lived a short life but Frazer McDermott's parents are adamant he will never be forgotten.
Aged only 20 when he died, Frazer, of Littleover, fought a brain tumour his entire life.
The talented artist was born with the tumour in the centre of his brain – but he managed to live as normal a life as possible, even after it robbed him of his sight.
Though non-cancerous, the tumour was treated with radiotherapy but it never shrunk.
In the months before he died, Frazer had 18 brain surgeries, three haemorrhages, pneumonia, shingles, two water infections, clostridium difficile, an aneurysm and two strokes. Eventually, the tumour spread to his spine and he passed away with his family at his bedside minutes after arriving at his Burton Road home from hospital after doctors said there was nothing more they could do.
Devastated by his death, his family started looking at ways that he could be remembered. Then they had their eureka moment.
During his illness, Frazer was treated at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham – at best, a 30-minute drive from their Littleover home.
His parents, Chris and Biba, realised what was needed was a house where families who do not live in Nottingham could stay while their child had treatment at the QMC.
That way, families would not have to face the trauma of a long commute and having to leave their child behind.
And so, in January this year, the family launched a fund-raising drive to make their idea a reality.
They set a target of £300,000, which would be used to build the house from scratch. The building – to be named Frazer's House – would double up as a brain tumour information centre.
It was a comfort to the tight-knit family as it helped them deal with the immense grief of losing Frazer.
And their dedication is paying off as, after only 12 months, the fund is already standing at £75,000.
Chris, who runs a car business based in Pride Park, said: "If you told us this time last year that we would be in this position, we never would have believed you.
"We thought it would take years to get to this stage.
"I think people are touched by Frazer's story.
"It is tragic but he was very inspirational. He had a very short but powerful life.
"He suffered and we suffered but we were with him every day for the last five months of his life.
"Now, it comforts us that the time we are putting into the charity is time we are putting in for Frazer – so it feels like he hasn't gone.
"We are very strong-willed – and we want to build this house for him.
"This means his name will live on forever. It is only recently we have got over the shock of losing him but this is helping us."
While he was alive, optimistic Frazer had an impact on those he met.
Despite having only 10% vision in one eye, the talented artist continued to paint and play on his guitar.
Despite Frazer suffering from the tumour since birth, Biba wanted him to be like any other child and so he was enrolled at Markeaton Primary School, followed by St Benedict Catholic School, in Darley Abbey.
After finishing sixth form at St Benedict, he moved to Loughborough for two years to attend the Royal National Institute for the Blind College, to learn to live independently.
While living away, he remained close to his parents, brother Myles, 23, and sister, Ellisia, 18.
Biba now spends most of her time running the charity – which started off as the Frazer McDermott Foundation but has now been renamed Frazer's House – along with Chris's sister, Lisa Radford.
In April, they organised a charity football match at Pride Park.
Then, in October, they held a fun run – named Frazer's Run – at Darley Park. About 140 people took part and £2,000 was raised.
But the biggest event was in October, when a charity ball took place at Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
Businesses from around the city pitched in and a staggering £32,000 was raised.
The rest of the funds has come from members of the public, including Derby Telegraph readers who donated after reading Frazer's story last year.
Chris said: "Biba and Lisa work really hard to organise the events. We all have ideas but they really head it up. It's a full-time job for them.
"They organise things on a day-to-day basis, but there are also lots of people in Derby doing things for Frazer.
"There was a golf day earlier this year which raised £4,200 and pupils at his old school St Benedict hold events for the charity.
"Frazer would be absolutely over the moon with what we are doing.
"He was a quiet young man who never thought he had achieved anything, which is so far from the truth.
"In fact, we've had people donate thousands of pounds in his name and in his memory. He was an inspirational guy."
Recently, the charity was given a three-bedroom house four miles from the QMC, which is currently in the process of being renovated.
They will be using the house on a trial basis so they can figure out how to run the bigger project once the £300,000 target has been met.
Chris said: "We won't have a strict criteria for families who want to stay there.
"We won't ask for a minimum distance the family has to have travelled from – some charities give a distance of 40-miles but that never helped us because we are only a few miles away in Derby.
"When we have hit the £300,000 target, we will build a house near to the hospital, a few minutes' walk away.
"There will be rooms for families to stay in while their child is having treatment at the hospital.
"Eventually, we want it to become a centre which will offer advice and information to families affected by brain tumours and head injuries."
Despite the fact that Frazer's House will be in Nottingham, the charity is based in Derby and all fund-raising events have taken place in the city.
But the family plans to expand the charity so one day it will become national.
Chris said: "We've got major support coming through and I think the momentum is going to get bigger.
"The charity has been well-received by the people of Derby and for that we are thankful.
"Next year, we want to get the charity even more established. The charity is part of our lives now and it will be fantastic to help other families who are going through what we went through.
"We want to do three main events a year – the football match, Frazer's Run and the ball. We want them to become popular, well-known events. Next year, we want to get 500 people taking part in the run.
"And one day it would be great to have Frazer's House in every hospital."
Biba said she thought it was "amazing" that the people of Derby were supporting Frazer.
She said: "Having Frazer's story in the Derby Telegraph last year helped the charity so much. There's also been a lot of word-of-mouth.
"It's amazing to have raised so much money – and we're still getting money coming in. It's wonderful that people have taken Frazer's story to their heart.
"We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our heart for all the support and donations.
"We think having Frazer's House is so important to the East Midlands.
"You never know what is round the corner and you never know if or when you will need one of those beds.
"Cancer and tumours feel like a common illness these days because most people know of someone who is affected by it."
Chris added: "We don't want Frazer to have lived a waste of a life. He had an amazing life.
"People tell us they have memories of Frazer all the time and it makes us so proud as parents."
For more information or to donate, visit www.frazers house.co.uk.